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The hunt is on for scholarships

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

Searching for scholarships can be like hunting for buried treasure and it is difficult without a map.

Figure out a route:

Park City High School Scholarship Advisor Dana Ardovino recommends that parents sit down with their children and have a frank discussion about what they can and cannot afford. This helps students determine where they would like to go for college and how much money they need for scholarships.

Students should also not get discouraged if they do not have a perfect grade point average.

"There are scholarships for everyone. I believe every student is unique and amazing. What they don’t realize is they each have a great story to tell," Ardovino said.

Some scholarships are unrelated to scholastic achievement and have other criteria such as overcoming adversity.

It also helps to know how to play up your strengths.

Students who are heavily involved in the community or have leadership experience should highlight this in scholarship applications.

"The big leg up over everyone else is leadership," Ardovino said. "You don’t have to be president of the National Honors Society to be a leader."

From volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters to holding a manager position at an after school job, students have more leadership experience than they realize, Ardovino added. This can also include being a mentor for an older sibling or organizing an event for church.

Another thing most people do not realize, Ardovino said, is people can begin their scholarship at any time.

"It’s never too early or too late for them to apply to scholarships," she said.

Where to start digging:

Get connected and learn what scholarships are out there by visiting several websites.

"The first thing that they can do is get registered on fastweb.com," Ardovino said.

Other online resources include collegeboard.org, collegenet.com, wiredscholar.com and scholarships.com.

"Get online and look all over the web," Ardovino said.

She cautioned students that it should never cost more than a stamp to apply for a scholarship. Students should veer away from scholarship offers that ask for money.

Once students have found scholarships they are eligible for they should begin applying for as many as possible.

I tell kids, ‘The more you apply for the higher your chance of getting one,’" Ardovino said.

With so many scholarships to apply for Ardovino suggested one way to stay organized is to keep a file of scholarship applications and sort them by due date. Then students should apply for scholarships about a month prior to the deadline. This helps students not worry so much about filling out scholarships.

Striking gold in other places

"If kids and parents don’t have time for anything else what they absolutely must do is: in January of their senior year they should complete a FAFSA," Ardovino said.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid can help get students government money for college. More information can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov .

Another source for college money can be specific schools.

"Once you start talking to colleges you should be asking what they can do for you," Ardovino said. "It never hurts to ask."

Making scholarships possible

Each year Ardovino encourages Parkites to contribute to the community scholarship fund.

"People always ask me, ‘What does $500 do?’ And for some students it makes the difference between going to college and not going to college," Ardovino said.

While Park City High School is often thought of as a fairly affluent school, Ardovino said there is still a strong need for scholarships for a number of intelligent students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to go.

"There’s so many deserving, hard working, outstanding and amazing students here," Ardovino said.

For more information about scholarship opportunities contact Dana Ardovino at 645-5657.


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